One look at the red cap and Eddy whistles. "You can't mean to accuse //him//!"\n\n"I'm not accusing anyone...yet. Just wanted a second opinion."\n\n<<display "Evidence">>
"Put down the rolling pin, Belle. I'm not accusing anyone."\n\nShe shakes the flour-covered roller in your face. "And you won't, either. I've got millions of orders to fill and only 24 hours to fill 'em. I don't have time for any tom foolery."\n\nYou decide she needs a bit more convincing. "A sizable quantity of dough is missing and needs to be found. If you won't let me poke around, I'll have to report you as being uncooperative."\n\nHer eyes narrow dangerously. "You little whippersnapper! I'm old enough to be your great-grand-elf. How dare you threaten me? Why I oughta take you over my knee."\n\nYou can't help but laugh at her threat, which sends Belle into a full-blown rant about disrespecting your elders. She conks you on the noggin with her rolling pin and you slump against the bakery door, unconscious. \n\nBy the time you wake up in the infirmary, Christmas has passed and there is no answer at the phone number Eve Snow gave you.\n\n''THE END''\n\n''Detective Level Earned:'' Crumbling Cookie
It's gold and about the size of a January snowflake. \n\n<<display "Lost and Found">>
Eddy looks at the small jingle and shakes his head. "Do you have any idea how many jingle bells there are in this town? Seen one, you've seen 'em all."\n\n"But this one is full of carots--24 to be exact. \n\nEddy checks it again but once more shakes his head. "I got nothing."\n\n<<display "Evidence">>
You nod toward the bottle of 1983 cider on the desk and ask, "Need a little something to wet your whistle?"\n\nShe shakes her head, "No, thank you."\n\n"Sure?"\n\nShe again refuses. "Please, Mr. Spruce. Time is of the essence. This is a very important matter."\n\n"Have it your way, sweetheart." You take a gulp from your glass.\n\n<<display "Questions">>
There's a slick blue Mustang with the keys in the ignition and you don't hesitate. There will be time enough later for an internal debate regarding the ethics of borrowing a car without mentioning it to the owner. \n\nYou twist the key and groan at the silence. Just your luck. It's a 12 volt electric. \n\nPressing the accelerator to the floor, you scoot off at the breakneck speed of 2.5 mph. \n\nOut on the open road, you coax the Mustang up to a more respectable 5 mph, but it's not enough to catch up with the quickly dimming taillights of the jeep. \n\nIt doesn't matter. \n\nYou know where they're going.\n\n\n[[The Claus Mansion]]
The snow swirls in hazy spirals outside but the coal stove in your rough-hewn log office is keeping the place cozy. It's quiet, but you've grown used to the silence. Long gone are the days when this buiding housed the elite of Christmas City security.\n\nLeaning back in the wooden swivel chair behind your desk, you scowl at the new high-tech security complex visible through the window. What could those wet-behind-the-ears punks know about real investigative work? They had machines that tailed a suspect, cameras that did the surveillance and computers to do their thinking. \n\nIn the botton-left drawer of the desk is the bottle of spiced cider you swore not to touch while on duty, but tonight you'll make an exception. It won't matter, anyway. It's not like you have any work to do. Those stiffs with the fancy machines get all the cases now. \n\nIt would be nice to have a secretary to properly warm and serve cider, but no work translates to no luxuries. Tipping the bottle into your glass, you can't help but think that drinking this stuff cold is the act of a desperate elf...\n\nJust as you raise the glass to your lips, there's a knock at the [[door]]. \n\n[[Answer the door]]\n
A row of filing cabinets cover the south wall of the office. Inside are the complete and meticulously updated resident files of Christmas City. Scanning the front labels, you pull open the drawer marked "SK-SP". Flipping quickly through the files, you mutter names out loud. \n\n"Snaper, Snell, Snoggit, Snow..."\n\nAfter several passes through the files, you realize Eve Snow is not a registered citizen. \n\nYou take a log book from the top-right drawer of your desk and thumb through the parchment pages. As you suspected, there are no registered visitors named Eve Snow, either. \n\nBorder security is tighter than the Fat Man's belt after dinner, which means only one thing.\n\nThe elf that just left your office is not Eve Snow.\n\n
It's too big to have fallen off elf clothes and the toy shop hasn't used wooden buttons for over fifty years. This button looks familiar and you remember where you've seen it before.\n\n<<display "Lost and Found">>
"Sorry, sweetheart, but the truth is I don't trust you. This isn't my first rodeo and I know when someone is giving me the bad bull."\n\nEve jumps to her feet in defense. "People told me you're the best and I really need your help, Mr. Spruce."\n\nYou walk over and open the office door. "Tell it to the elves next door. I've got better things to do than chase all over Christmas City for a dame that likes to play games."\n\nThe look she gives you reeks with disappointment, but you don't care. You slam the door behind her and sit back down in your chair. Taking a slug from your glass of cold cider, you reach over and flick on the old black and white. \n\nYour favorite detective movie is on, but you're snoring in the chair long before it's over. \n\n''THE END''\n\n''Detective Level Earned'': //Burnt-out bulb//
You watch the elf disappear from one monitor and enter the frame of another. She flips from monitor to monitor and finally disappears. \n\nThe guard returns your I.D. and motions toward a door. He presses a button under the desk and the lock buzzes open. \n\nInside is a young and lovely secretary who directs you to a plush sofa in the waiting area. "Director Trane is finishing a meeting and he'll be with you shortly, Mr. Spruce. May I get you a refreshment while you wait?" You ask for a spiced cider and admire her pretty brown eyes when she returns with it.\n\n"You look like an elf that prefers his cider straight-up. Am I right?" \n\nYou return her smile and accept the mug of warmed cider without its traditional whipped topping. "You are. Thank you."\n\nShe sits down beside you. "I don't suppose it would hurt to chat while you wait, would it?"\n\nYou sip a seemingly bottomless cup of cider, listen to the soothing holiday musak on the office speakers and enjoy the charming company of Miss Holli Piper for hours. When the director finally arrives, he enters through the outside door. \n\nYou can't recall why you wanted to talk to him, but you have a date for Friday night.\n\n''THE END''\n\n''Detective Level Earned:'' //Distracted by Decor//
<<actions "the carved wooden button" "the small jingle bell" "the red baseball cap" "Final Questions">>\n\n\n\n
You pull up in front of the Claus Mansion and walk directly to the front door. You don't yet have all the pieces to this puzzle, but as Mama Elf used to say, "In for a penny, in for a pound."\n\nThe door is answered by the Fat Man's wife and you ask to see her husband. \n\n"This is highly unusual, Mr. Spruce. Do you know what day it is?"\n\nYou glance at your watch. Sure enough, the night has slipped away and it's 8am on December 24th. \n\n"I apologize for the interruption, Ma'am, but this is urgent." \n\nShe leads you to the Fat Man's study. He's sitting in a recliner next to the hearth and gives a belly laugh as you enter. \n\n"Ho, ho! What a pleasant surprise. Come join us, Mr. Spruce."\n\nA pretty face peeks out from a matching recliner and Eve Snow asks, "You found the dough? Who stole it, Mr. Spruce?"\n\n[[The Fat Man]]\n[[Eve Snow]]\n[[Belle Brandy]]
You must have nodded off during the ride because it seems you only blinked your eyes and Nissa was pulling up in front of the Stuff-It factory. \n\nShaking your head to clear the sudden drowsiness, you unfold yourself from the tiny cart and step onto the curb. Reaching in your vest pocket for a token, you hold it out for Tom. \n\n"Thanks again. It's not much, but have a hot spiced cider on me."\n\nTom takes the token and gums it for authenticity. "Ya. Is goot!" \n\nAs you turn to face the massive factory, a troubling question enters your foggy mind. \n\n//How did Tom know your destination? He never asked.//\n\nYou glance back at the curb but the curious old elf and his friendly goat have disappeared.\n\n[[The Stuff-It Factory]]
The heels of your boots click on the gleaming tile as you walk toward the front desk. A dapper young elf in a crisp red uniform greets you with a friendly smile.\n\n"Merry Christmas, Mr. Spruce. How can I help you?"\n\n"I'd like to see the Director."\n\n"Director Trane's office is on the fourth floor. I'll notify security that you'll be coming up. Have a happy holiday."\n\nAs the elevator doors open onto the fourth floor, a Nutcracker in full dress uniform steps from behind a desk and asks for your I.D. \n\nAs the guard verifies your identity with the computer, you watch the wall of monitors behind him. Each shows a deserted section of the NSA offices. \n\nExcept one.\n\nA shapely elf in a tight dress with a fur wrap draped over her arm walks out of a room. The monitor is labeled "Executive Suite". \n\n\n[[Head for the Lobby]]\n[[Wait for the Director]]
Eddy touches the empty buttonhole on his tartan vest as soon as he sees the button in your hand. \n\n"It's mine, but I swear I didn't steal any dough!"\n\n"What were you doing at the bakery, Eddy?"\n\nEddy hangs his big bear head in shame and whimpers, "A bear has needs, Sam. I can't help it. Desire will do crazy things to a bear."\n\n"You needed honey."\n\nEddy sniffles and nods. "Belle pays me for helping during the summer, when most of the elves take off work. She doesn't really need the help but she says a little honey will keep me on the straight and narrow."\n\n"She's a smart cookie." \n\n<<display "Evidence">>
"Some might call it stealing. I would call it compassion. Belle Brandy is responsible for the missing dough."\n\nSanta winks at Eve and says, "Tell us what happened, Sam."\n\n"Under Belle's gruff exterior, she has a heart of gold. Rather than lazing through the summer months like most elves, she uses the bakery to help those in need. She finds a way to keep Eddy supplied with honey and save him from the temptation of criminal behavior. I have no doubt she used the missing dough in the same manner to help other toys and elves feed their desire for sweet treats."\n\nSanta leans back in his chair, eyes twinkling. "You don't say. Please, go on."\n\nYou grin at the Fat Man and say, "It was you driving the goat cart. Only you have the magic of reading thoughts. You knew I was heading to Eddy's without my saying so."\n\n"Ho, ho, ho! You got me on that one, Sam! I think we both realized my mistake at the same time. That's why I disappeared."\n\nYou reach into your pocket for the red cap. "I found this, too. After checking the bakery receipts and realizing that most of the dough went missing during the summer, I realized you must have been aware of the activity in the bakery in the off months." You hand the hat to the Fat Man. \n\n"I was wondering where I dropped this. Thank you, Sam."\n\nYou continue your story. "I suspected Miss Snow of the theft until I saw her in the NSA buildings. I knew she was a using a false name, so her unescorted presence there could only mean one thing."\n\nEve looks up from her chair with a grin. "And what is that, Mr. Spruce?"\n\n"You're an NSA agent."\n\n"Temporary agent, to be exact. My real name is Eve Jangle and I normally work in Elf Resources."\n\n"What I don't understand," you scratch your head, "is why all the mystery? You both knew who was responsible for the missing dough. Why bring me into it?"\n\n[[Eve spills the beans]]\n\n\n\n\n\n
Frustrated and fed up, you lean over the counter. "Listen, sister, I don't care who or what you are now. I've got odds that you have the information I need, so tell me." \n \nShe slips her hand under the counter and smiles with genuine merriment, "And I got odds that I don't, and wouldn't tell you if I did."\n\nHer "happy" face would frighten small children. \n\nYou realize she must have set off a concealed alarm and duck in the nick of time. The nutcracker guard lunges for you, misses and falls against the counter. As he scrambles to his feet, you scamper for the exit. \n\n[[Go to the NSA|Inside the NSA]]\n[[Find a pub and have some cider|Cider]]\n\n\n
"Now serving number 3,627. Number 3,627 please step forward."\n\nThe elves in the crowded lobby check their slips of paper but no one steps forward. Your ticket reads "4048" but you take advantage of the lull and step up to the counter. \n\nWithout looking up from her writing, the grey-haired elf behind the counter addresses you. "Are you number 3,627?"\n\n"Yes."\n\nShe holds out her hand, still without looking up. "Paper."\n\n"Never mind that. I need to see the manager."\n\nShe finally raises her head and looks over her glasses to give you the once-over. Her lips compress into a thin line of impatience. "The manager is not here. The complaint department is the door on the left side of the building." She looks over your shoulder and shouts, "Next."\n\nYou move to block her view of the lobby, lowering your voice to a hush, "I need some information. Word has it that security in town is becoming a stranglehold. What's going down?"\n\nShe raises an eyebrow and gives you a tired look. "Do I look like a spy? The only information I have is the stuff folks are too lazy to look up for themselves. You wanna know how to cook a turkey? Then I'm your girl. But if you want any of that super-secret spy stuff, you need to ask the Noel Security Agency."\n\n"But I thought..."\n\n"Yeah, well things change. We're just over-worked civil servants now." She stands up in her chair to look over your shoulder. "NEXT!"\n\n[[Call Eve Snow]]\n[[Go to the NSA]]\n[[Demand more information from this Elf|Demand info]]\n\n\n
"With all due respect, Mr. Claus, I believe you took the dough."\n\nOther than Mrs. Claus' gasp, the room is silent. Santa looks at you from over his glasses. \n\n"Explain yourself."\n\nTaking a deep breath, you plunge in. "That you visit the bakery is no surprise, but I have to wonder why you did so in the summer." You pull the red cap out of your pocket. "Typically, the bakery shuts down during the summer months, but Belle Brandy secretly contracted outside help during that time. Why else would she need it unless she was baking cookies? When I went through the receipts, I saw that the dough wasn't taken all at once, but rather through smaller amounts spread out over many months-primarily during the summer." \n\nMrs. Claus stepped forward, "Santa! You said you would watch your cholesterol. I worked so hard making all those healthy meals and you were sneaking off to eat cookies? For shame!"\n\nYou take another breath and continue, afraid that if you stop you'll lose your nerve. "You posed as Tom and gave me a ride across town so you could send me into a magic slumber and snatch Eve's phone number. She came to me in the hopes that I would erase her suspicions about you, but you knew eventually she would tell me and I'd figure out the truth. You hoped that if you could prevent us from talking, the deadline would pass and everyone would eventually forget the lost dough."\n\nThe Fat Man stands up to offer his wife an apologetic hug then turns an angry eye on you. "So you get me in trouble with the Mrs., eh? \n\nEPILOGUE-\n\nYou can congratulate yourself for being the only detective to ever accuse Santa Claus of theft and deception. You'll have plenty of time to mull over your accomplishment while you enjoy your new career shoveling out the NSA Stables.\n\n''THE END''\n\n''Detective Level Earned:'' //Supreme Shoveler of...Fertilizer//
You pocket the three items and return the rest to the Lost and Found box. Like a good Santa's Helper, you put the box back on the shelf and leave the bakery.\n\nOutside, you lift the collar of your coat against the swirling snow and walk to the curb to flag a taxi. Cars zip by, but none stop. After several minutes of dodging traffic, an ancient elf hobbles up beside you. \n\n"It's nodda taxi, but if you yust need to be somewhere, I godda ride fer you."\n\nFilled with relief and gratitude, you thank the old elf repeatedly for his generosity as he guides you back down the sidewalk. When he stops beside a goat harnessed to a small cart, he flashes you a toothless smile of pride. \n\n"Say hallo to da gentleman, Nissa." On cue, the goat bleats in your direction.\n\nThere's no other option so you fold yourself into the back of the tiny cart, pulling your collar up higher and your hat down lower. With any luck at all, no one will recognize you. \n\nThe old elf climbs into the driver's seat. "Here we go!"\n\nNissa bleats again and the slow-moving goat cart pulls into the busy holiday traffic.\n\n[[The slow ride]]\n\n\n\n
It's a female elf; a real [[looker]].\n\nYou put a hand in your suit pocket and lean casually against the doorframe. "What can I do for you, sweetheart?"\n\nShe glances up from beneath the brim of her hat and flashes her baby blues. "Are you Sam Spruce, Lead Agent for the Festive Bureau of Investigations?"\n\n"That's what the name on the door says. Or it did last time I checked." You stand back to let her enter.\n\nYou indicate that she should take a seat. She sits, crossing her legs slowly as if allowing you an extended view of her shapely stems. Not wanting to overlook her effort, you oblige. \n\nYou take your seat behind the desk and smile, "What can I do for you, angel?"\n\n"I've asked around Christmas City for a good detective and several people recommended you. Will you help me?"\n\n\n<<display "Questions">>\n
"Let's slow down. You got a name?"\n\n"Eve. Eve Snow," she answers, while dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief from her purse.\n\n"I'm a little short-handed at the moment or I'd offer you some hot cocoa, Miss...or is it Mrs. Snow?"\n\n"It's Miss, but please, call me Eve." \n\nYou relax into your chair. "So tell me, Eve, what's your job here in Christmas City?"\n\nShe squirms in her chair. "Is that necessary information? Don't you want to know why I need help?"\n\n"Of course, I do. How else will I know if I can help you?"\n\n<<display "Questions">>
You circle around to the rear of the stables and look for a way in. The only entrance is the flight door, which you slowly ease open enough to slip through. \n\nOnce inside, you remove your shoes and sneak past the stalls of sleeping reindeer. A light in front office draws you closer. Staying low, you creep up to the window that overlooks the stalls. The three voices inside the office are low and you can only make out certain words. \n\n"...he wouldn't have told...calculated risk...nothing we can do about it time left, we have to go..."\n\nYou hurry back through the stalls and leave the stable door open behind you. Running to the front of building, you see Eve step into the jeep. Her driver is none other than the Fat Man himself.\n\nEverything is beginning to make sense now. \n\nIf there is any chance that the Fat Man is involved, a smart detective would drop the case. \n\n\n[[Pursue Them|In Hot Pursuit]]\n[[Chicken Out]]
Alibi for the Fat Man
Only a fool would challenge the Fat Man on his home turf. No, it would be smarter to walk away from this and let Eve Snow (whoever she really is) figure it out for herself. \n\nThen again, no one has ever accused you of being overly bright.\n\nYou scan the parked cars for one that has the keys in the ignition. You'll sort out the ethics of unauthorized borrowing later. \n\n[[Look at the parked cars|In Hot Pursuit]]\n
The Christmas City Kitchen is for the nose what a harmonic holiday choir is for the ears. The mingled aromas of sweet confections, oven-fresh breads and spicy cakes make you dizzy with the desire for a taste. \n\nYou stand just inside the door and close your eyes, inhaling the blissful scent until a screeching female voice interrupts your pleasure. \n\n"I told the other elf that the cookies aren't ready yet and harassing me won't make them bake any faster. I haven't missed a Christmas delivery in over sixty years and I won't miss this one, so get on with you! Get out of my kitchen!"\n\n"I'm not here for any cookies, lady." You flip your F.B.I. badge but she doesn't even look at it.\n\n"Then whaddya want?"\n\n"I take it you're Belle Brandy, head baker?" She nods and you continue, "I'm here to investigate a report of missing dough."\n\nShe lifts her rolling pin in a threatening gesture. "Are you accusing me of stealing? Is that what you're doing?"\n\n[[No]]\n[[Yes]]\n
Your office may have been down-sized to one man, but unlike the CIA, it's still inside the Christmas City Security Complex. Your F.B.I. badge doesn't impress the citizenry as much as it once did, but it's still enough to get you past the Nutcracker Guards at the gate. \n\nTruth be told, you haven't given much thought to the security changes in Christmas City during recent years. You chide yourself for getting caught up in complacency. Crossing the circular drive of the security complex, you glance from the elegantly modern NSA buildings to your dismal office at the farthest end of the compound. \n\nSuddenly, the truth of your own future becomes clear. \n\nMaybe that's the shakedown Eddy was talking about. Maybe he professed ignorance to protect you from seeing the ax that was about to fall. \n\nYou try to shake off the depressive mood but can't help wondering what type of work they will assign to an elf that is too young to retire and too old to learn new tricks. \n\nStill, you won't go down without a fight. You still have a case to solve, right? A cup of cider sure sounds good about now.\n\n[[Inside the NSA]]\n[[Find a pub and have some cider|Cider]]\n\n\n\n
It's a simple wooden door. The top half is a frosted pane of glass. Through the glass, you see a shadowed silhouette.\n\n
Listen, Eddy, I know you're staying clean but I also know that you still have an ear to the ground. What's the word on the streets?"\n\nEddy wraps a weighty arm around your shoulders and leads you to a more private area of the loading dock. \n\n"I'm not sure of the cause, but there's been an unusual number of inspections lately. We can hardly load a box without one flunky or another checking it out."\n\n"Have you had thefts?"\n\n"Not a one. You know I'm under special supervision so my books are solid. If so much as a candy cane is missing, we stop work to find it."\n\nYou nod thoughtfully. "Thanks for the heads up, Eddy. I'll let you get back to work." You put the cap and jingle bell back in your pocket then flip the button over for Eddy to catch. "You might want this."\n\nRather than face the thundering noise of the factory, you escape out the back gate. If there's a shakedown happening in Christmas City, the Christmas Intelligence Agency would know about it. \n\n[[The CIA]]\n\n\n\n\n\n
A rainbow of colored steam belches from the smokestacks of the Stuff-It factory. Obviously, production is at full speed in preparation of stuffing stockings around the globe. \n\nThe guardhouse at the gate stands empty, which you interpret as a welcome. Inside the main building, machines clank, conveyor belts whirr and orders are barked through the loudspeakers. Hundreds of uniformed elves, all humming different holiday carols, scurry around the floor like demented mice. It's hard to hear yourself think over the noise. \n\nYou reach out and grab the arm of a passing elf. "Where's the boss man?"\n\nThe elf raises an eyebrow, "Eh?"\n\nYou repeat the question in a shout but the elf shakes his head before pulling a marshmallow out of his ear. "What's that?"\n\n"Where's the boss man?" \n\nThe elf points toward a dark doorway at the far end of the factory. "Try the his office at the end of the hall. If he's not there, try the loading dock." He sticks the marshmallow back in his ear and runs off. \n\n[[Office]]\n[[Loading Dock]]\n\n\n\n\n\n
You need to think and you know just where to do it: Tidings Tavern. It's a joint just beyond the gates of the Christmas City Security Complex, run by elves that serve premuium cider and don't ask too many questions.\n\nIt's no surprise that the place is nearly empty. After all, the clock is ticking toward the big day and most elves are working overtime. The bartender, a pleasingly plump and rosy-cheeked elf, hurries over. \n\n"'Ello, Sam."\n\n"How's tricks, Meg?" \n\n"Can't complain." She slides a warm, spiced cider across the bar. It's straight up, just the way you like it. \n\n"You sure know how to make an elf happy, sweetie. A warm cider served with the prettiest smile in town," you say with a wink.\n\nShe flourishes her bar towel at you, laughing. "And you could charm the tinsel off a tree, you flirt!"\n\nThe cider goes down smooth and warms you to the tips of your curled toes. You swivel around on the bar stool and relax as you watch the swirling snow outside the tavern window. \n\nBut the fluffy, frozen, white stuff isn't the only "snow" you see.\n\nEve Snow hurries past the window; on route to the security offices. \n\n[[Follow Eve|Inside the NSA]]\n
<<actions "a small jingle bell" "a red baseball cap" "a carved wooden button" "Leave the Bakery">>
After waiting for what seems like hours, Eve and her driver emerge from the stables and get into the jeep. \n\nYou scan the area for a means of transportation. It has to be fast, manueverable and inconspicuous. \n\n[[Look at the parked cars|In Hot Pursuit]]
Sidetracked by your visit to the CIA, you decide to contact the one person who can shed more light on the crime. \n\nYou head for the phone box on the corner and search your pockets for the card she gave you with her number. You distinctly recall putting the card in your pocket, but it isn't there. Patting yourself down, you confirm the absence of the card. \n\nYou mentally retrace your steps. Eddy put an arm around you-could he have lifted it? You step out of the phone box, ready to disassemble Eddy's stuffing when you recall the curious ride in the goat cart. Could the old elf have taken it? Why?\n\nWith no way to contact Eve Snow (or whatever her name is) you have to follow the only remaining lead. \n\n[[Inside the NSA]]
If you could move your legs in the confined space, the ride wouldn't be altogether unpleasant. As Nissa plods along at a snail's pace, you pass the time with small talk. \n\n"You got a name old one?"\n\nThe elf looks back at you over his shoulder. The twinkle in his eyes is bright enough to be magical. "Ya. Name is Tom." \n\n"Pleased to meet you, Tom. It was an ace for me that you were around, but what brings an old fella like you out on such a busy night?"\n\n"Me and Nissa, we do da deliveries."\n\nYou watch the traffic whizzing by the slow-moving cart. It's hard to imagine anyone hiring such a slow means of transportation on one of the busiest nights of the year. \n\nAs if reading your mind, Tom says, "Not all da deliveries need go so fast, ya? Slow is goot for you, ya?"\n\n"Well, to be frank with you, I'm in a bit of a hurry."\n\nTom's laughter fills the night air. "Den we hurry!"\n\n[[Arrival]]\n\n
"Will you take my case, Mr. Spruce?"\n\nYou get up and walk around to the front of the desk to sit on the edge of it. "How much dough are we talking about?"\n\nEve lowers her eyes and hesitates long enough to gently bite her bottom lip. "Plenty," she whispers. She looks up, her eyes watering with an impassioned plea. "Please. I need help but I've told you all I can. You'll have to trust me."\n\nYou can think of several reasons not to trust her. On the other hand, it's been a long time since you've had an intriguing case. \n\n[[Accept the case]]\n[[Refuse the case]]\n\n
It looks like the Fat Man's summer hat and smells like cookies. \n\n<<display "Lost and Found">>
"You know who took the dough, Eve."\n\n"I don't know what you mean. I came to you for help and now you accuse me?"\n\n"You aren't a citizen or a registered visitor. You're an outsider, a forest elf if I had to guess. You have no reason to be in the city bakery, but you know about the missing dough...and I found this there." You hold up the tiny gold jingle bell. As soon as Eve sees it, she gasps and touches her jingle earring. \n\n"You came to me rather than the NSA agents because you knew Eddy's history. You knew I'd hit him first if there was even a whiff of any black market operation. Forest elves have some pretty powerful and dark magic. I'd bet my hat that Tom the goat cart elf was you. A nice old elf that deposits me in right in front of Eddy's factory-it was too convenient. When Eddy told me about the recent tightening of security, I knew there must be more missing than just some dough. Seeing you unescorted in the NSA offices could only mean you were snooping to find out what they knew."\n\nEve shakes her head sadly. "I've never heard such a ridiculous story. I'm afraid you've lost your touch, Mr. Spruce. My real name is Eve Jangle and I'm the new director of the NSA. You'd know that if you had read the security handouts. Both my name and photo were on last month's front page. We've suspected that Eddy had returned to his criminal ways and hoped that you might use your connection with him to uncover the truth. Those crates you leaned against while talking to him were filled with the missing dough."\n\nEPILOGUE:\n\nA week later, your office is dozed to make way for the new NSA agent housing. Following a series of aptitude tests given by the Christmas City Elf Resources, you are assigned duty as a civil servant at the CIA. \n\n''THE END''\n\n''Detective Level Earned:'' //All-day Sucker//\n\n\n
At the end of the long, wood-paneled hallway you find an over-sized door with gold letters stenciled on the glass.\n\n//Edward T. Bear, Director//\n\nUpon entering the office, you walk up to the secretary, a doll in a blonde wig that is painting her nails. "Is Eddy in?"\n\nShe gives you the pouty-lip face. "Who wants to know?"\n\nYou give her a lazy smile and make your request more firmly. "That ain't your business, dollface. Is he here or not?"\n\n"Eddy said he don't wanna be disturbed, see? So I ain't gonna disturb him." \n\nYou step around her desk toward the door to Eddy's private office. The secretary jumps out of her chair, flapping her hands to avoid smearing the still-wet nail paint. \n\n"You can't go in there! You ain't got no right!"\n\nYou easily sidestep her and open the door. "I didn't go in. Only looked." The office is empty. \n\n[[Head for the Loading Dock|Loading Dock]]\n\n\n\n\n\n\n
She's wearing a tailored red dress that accentuates every positive and a felted hat with a brim that shades her eyes. There are sparkling trinkets on her fingers, clusters of tiny golden jingles hanging from her earlobes and a white fur wrap draped over her arm.\n\nExperience has taught you that beautiful elves in tight, red dresses mean trouble. Rich ones mean danger. \n\n<<back>>
Eve looks at Santa for confirmation and at the nod of his head, she fills in the missing pieces. \n\n"Eddy told you about the new security measures the NSA has been putting into place. You saw for yourself that the CIA has been reassigned. The goal is to solidify Christmas City Law Enforcement into one department." \n\n"I see." Your guts twist as you wait for the ax to fall on your career.\n\n"However, the plan failed because security must sometimes stretch beyond the borders of Christmas City. We need uniquely qualified investigators to handle outside assignments. You had those qualifications at one time, Mr. Spruce, but we couldn't be sure if you were still up to the task."\n\n"So you used the missing dough to set up a test."\n\n"We did." Eve indicates Santa.\n\n"Did I pass?" You hold your breath waiting for the answer.\n\n"Ho, ho, ho! With flying colors, Sam! I knew you could do it!"\n\nYou exhale in a rush while Eve explains, "You'll be heading up the newly created Secret Santa Society, but further details will have to wait for a couple of days."\n\n"Wait? Why?"\n\nSanta stands up and taps his watch. "For a such a smart elf, you keep forgetting what day it is, Sam. I'm going to be a little busy tonight."\n\nEPILOGUE:\n\nYou relax in your new office as your secretary recites your schedule. Tomorrow, you'll be flying with your new covert reindeer team to Alberta, where it's reported that a gang of Bratz! dolls have gone rogue with some G.I. Joes. It looks like an open and shut case. With any luck, you'll be back in time to make your dinner date with Eve Jangle on Thursday. \n\n''THE END''\n\n''Detective Level Earned:'' //Noel Ninja// \nCongratulations!\n\n\n
The loading dock is as busy as the factory, but it's easy to locate Eddy's massive shape. He's directing a small army of elves as they load crates into the back of a truck. \n\nYou casually walk over and lean on the stack of crates until Eddy notices you. He raises a paw and all movement on the loading dock ceases. \n\n"Hiya, Eddy. How's tricks?"\n\nEddy's shock is replaced with artifcial enthusiasm. He extends a giant paw in welcome and greets you with his booming, gruff voice. "Well, well. If it isn't my old friend Sam Spruce. Howya doin' old man?"\n\nYou give him the phony smile you reserve for such occasions and ignore the offered paw shake. "Old friend? If memory serves, our [[previous meeting|Archive]] wasn't exactly cordial, Eddy."\n\n"True. But Christmas is a time of generosity, eh, Sam?"\n\n"That's rich coming from you, Eddy." You pat the side of the crate under your elbow. "How's the market this year? Been profitable, has it?"\n\nEddy growls from deep in his stuffed chest, "I'm a reformed bear, Sam. You know that." \n\n"What I know is that a hefty amount of dough is missing from the Christmas City Kitchen."\n\n"I don't know anything about it," he says as he nervously straightens his bow tie.\n\n"I found a few things at the scene. Maybe you can help an 'old friend' and tell me what you know about them."\n\n<<display "Evidence">>\n\n
As you search the bakery, Belle's words hang in your thoughts.\n\n//" you know, tomorrow is the big day."//\n\nEve Snow //insisted// that the dough be found by tomorrow. In the pre-holiday frenzy, it's possible that no one will notice the missing dough until a final tally is taken. By then it would be too late. \n\n//Maybe Eve Snow is using me to cover her tracks before she gets caught.//\n\nChecking the [[bakery's accounts]] takes time but yields valuable information. \n\nAs you head out of the bakery, you accidentally bump into a shelf filled with boxes. One falls off and spills its contents at your feet. An elf carrying a tray of cookies passes by. \n\n"No harm done, that's just the lost and found box. Be a Santa's Helper and toss it back up there, will ya?"\n\n"Happy to," you say, as you squat down to scoop up the mess. Picking through the clutter you find a few things of interest.\n\n<<display "Lost and Found">>\n\n \n \n\n\n\n\n\n
In a dimly lit storage room you find a pile of invoices, the shape of which vaguely resembles a desk. Apparently Belle's idea of running a tight ship doesn't include paperwork. \n\nSometimes being a detective means doing grunt work. You meticulously sort a year's worth of invoices and receipts then do the math.\n\nIt can't be.\n\nIf your math is accurate (and there's no reason to think it isn't), Eve's estimation of "plenty" pushes the line of exaggeration into "liar, liar, leggings on fire." Worse, if the missing dough isn't found soon, the Fat Man's sleigh will be considerably lighter than it should.\n\n\n
"I'll take a look around, ask some questions and see what I can do. You aren't giving me much to go on."\n\n"Please believe me, Mr. Spruce. I've told you all I can."\n\n"Yeah, I got that part. I don't like it, but I got it. Where can I reach you?"\n\nEve rises off the chair and hands you a small card. "Call me."\n\nThe card is blank except for a phone number. "No address?"\n\n"No address," she confirms. "Thank you, Mr. Spruce. I'll be in touch." She gives you a smile and disappears through the door. \n\nYou pocket the card, check the [[city files]] for a resident named Eve Snow then head for the most obvious location to find dough. \n\n[[The Bakery]]\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n
"What's got you so upset, sweetheart?"\n\nShe leans forward, her voice barely a whisper and those big, blue peepers sparkle with tears. "I need you to find some dough that's gone missing." Your pointed ears perk up. \n\n"Come, now. It can't be all that bad."\n\nShe stands up and impulsively grabs your hand. "Oh, but it is that bad, Mr. Spruce. You don't understand. It's December 23 and I've got to get that dough back by tomorrow!"\n\n<<display "Questions">>
<<actions "Offer her a drink" "Ask her name" "Ask about the problem" "Continue...">>
Questions swirl in your mind as the elevator opens into the lobby. Hoping you're not too late, you head outside and glance around the driveway. Judging by the level of snowfall, no cars have been recently moved. You find cover at the side of the building and wait, watching the entrance. \n\nMoments later, a jeep pulls up and idles the engine. Eve Snow, with her fur wrap held tight around her bare shoulders, gets in the passenger side. \n\nYou watch the jeep circle around the security complex and stop at the stables. Both Eve and the driver get out of the jeep and enter the stable office. \n\nWhatever her purpose or name, it's obvious that Eve Snow is no stranger to the NSA.\n\n[[Investigate the Stables]]\n[[Stay Put]]\n
by Marianne Arbour-Dobbs
"That isn't my intention, but I'm beginning to wonder if you have something to hide."\n\nBelle lowers her rolling pin and wipes her forearm across a ruddy cheek. "Sorry. The ovens are running full blast and it's hot as Canada back there. There's still a lot to do and as you know, tomorrow is the big day."\n\nYou decide to be gracious. "I understand, Mrs. Brandy. I get that the pressure is on, but I really need to look around. Any problem with that?"\n\n"I run a tight ship here. Look all you want, just keep your hands off the goodies and stay out of my way."\n\nAlthough Belle agrees to the search, you notice the worried backward glances as she hurries off to tend the ovens.\n\n[[Search the bakery]]
//Excerpt from the Christmas City Chronicle, January 12, 1943//\n\n-New York, NY, USA\nYesterday, authorities arrested several human males in connection with a widespread black market toy operation. Aided with anonymous clues left for police by Christmas City F.B.I. agents, the humans were caught red-handed at the loading dock of FAO Schwarz. \nManagers at the famous toy store had been reporting missing shipments for months but could not explain the thefts, which happened primarily when the store was closed and locked. \nChristmas City F.B.I. agent Sam Spruce will be escorting Edward T. Bear, alleged ringleader of the toy thefts, back to stand trial. Bear, a seven foot tall teddy that was created as an FAO Schwarz window display, confessed to moving the toys to the loading dock where the humans could pick them up. Bear claims his motivations were "for a good cause", but has yet to explain how he acquired 135 crates of honey that were found in his possession. The investigation continues. \n